Laura E. Weymouth explores life after the magical fantasy ends in THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS!
You’ve probably heard it before: Struggling with the real world and all of its horrors, a character or characters find themselves swept up into a magical world of whimsy where they can overcome the tragedies of life in their own way.
But what happens after they return home?
That’s what Laura E. Weymouth is exploring in her new novel The Light Between Worlds, which follows Ev and Philippa Hapwell, two sisters who found their way into a magical realm called The Woodlands in World War II era London. Now the girls are back in London, where mundane life goes on and no one could begin to understand the realm they sought shelter in. Philippa is doing her best to adjust to life once again, but Ev is desperately searching for a way back to The Woodlands. After losing the most magical moments of their lives, can the sisters ever be the same?
Thanks to HarperTeen, we had the chance to ask Laura E. Weymouth a few questions about why she chose to write about the post-fantasy world struggle, creating a new magical realm, and diving into some big issues along the way. Check it out!
What were your first inspirations for The Light Between Worlds and how did you develop them?
I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of what happens to characters after the adventure in a fantasy novel is over. I’m also a longtime lover of the Narnia books in particular and portal fantasies in general, so when I saw a request online for a manuscript that follows a family similar to the Pevensies through the aftermath of their otherworldly experience, I knew I wanted to be the one to write that book. From that initial seed of an idea, the Woodlands and the Hapwell siblings were born.
What are some of Ev and Philippa’s best and worst traits?
Evelyn’s best trait is definitely her loyalty. And I suppose her worst trait—her inflexibility and resistance to change—is tied into that as well. She’s not a very fluid character—she has a difficult time with transition of any kind, but it means that once she’s on your side, you’ve got her support more or less forever.
Phil’s best trait is probably her social intelligence. She’s quite wickedly clever when it comes to reading and yes, sometimes manipulating, the people around her. While you see a lot of her failures in that regard in The Light Between Worlds, I do think most of the time she succeeds, and primarily uses her powers for good. Her worst trait is her guardedness, and refusal to let people see when she’s struggling.
Why did you decide to address issues like eating disorders and self-harm in the context of this story?
They’re things I dealt with as a teen and continue, in other forms, to deal with as an adult. Most teen girls will either personally experience disordered eating, self-harm, or depression, or have close friends who do. And I’ve always felt that the best fantasies are the ones that provide both a compelling story and some form of help and wisdom for everyday life. So in writing a novel about the aftermath of a series of quite traumatic events, I didn’t want to shy away from portraying the unhealthy mindsets and coping mechanisms the Hapwell girls fall into simply because their story is a fantasy. That wouldn’t be truthful either in the context of their world or the context of our world. And it’s important that those stories be available to girls and young woman, to remind them that they’re not alone—that others have experienced their struggles, and come out on the other side.
Who were some of your favorite secondary characters to write and why?
I absolutely love Presswick. She’s smart and sharp and kind at her core, and gives Philippa a run for her money. I have an enormous soft spot for Jack, who I think is just a wonderful person, and who’s more than able to keep up with Phil and not let her manage him. And everyone complains about how little on-page time Jamie gets, which was an intentional choice on my part, but rest assured that I love him as a character and really enjoyed all his scenes.
In The Woodlands, you created your own magical world. Was there anything you wanted to include in this limitless universe but ultimately didn’t?
I actually roughed out a map of the Woodlands, and there’s a LOT I didn’t include. I made that choice because the Hapwells’ time in the Great Wood isn’t the focus of the novel—it’s their experience after the Woodlands I wanted to really explore. While I don’t have any plans at present to return to the Woodlands, maybe someday I’ll set another story in amongst the summer markets on the beach below Palace Beautiful, or the Singers’ School to the south, or at the heart of the Great Wood when the forest’s Guardian stands watch twice a year, during the Longest Day and Longest Night.
What’s your writing process like?
I have two young children—currently 6 and 4, and the youngest isn’t in school fulltime yet. So my writing process is pretty much catch as catch can. I squeeze in a lot of the business end of being an author during the day—social media, blog posts, articles, plotting. The bulk of my writing I do after my girls are in bed. I always joke that my office hours are from 8-11pm. It’s not ideal, but it works for this season of life!
What’s next for you?
I do have a second novel in the works, which is slated for publication on September 17th of 2019. It’s called A Treason of Thorns, and is another historical fantasy set in the English countryside. There’s a lot fans of The Light Between Worlds will love, but a bit of a faster pace. The central premise of the book is that in an alternate-history England, the good of the land is tied to the fate of five magical Great Houses (think Downton Abbey but with a will and power of its own.) Violet Sterling, the dispossessed daughter of a treasonous nobleman, is tasked with serving as Caretaker of a Great House that’s slowly dying, and ruining the surrounding countryside as it fails. It’s up to Vi to decide whether she should fight for the preservation and continued survival of her ailing House, or resign herself to allowing it to be burned.